Unhappiness is so justified. We don’t have to look very far to find the source of it in our life. It might be caused by a miserable relationship, dysfunction in the workplace, ungrateful children, financial debt, poor bodily health, lack of intimacy, or so many other origins.
We feel it in our core. Unhappiness permeates our cells, greets us upon waking, follows us throughout the day, and attends to all our suffering. Even in the brief moments of respite, we know our “special friend” will soon return.
Unhappiness not only demonstrates that I can suffer, but also that it’s not my fault. Someone or something did this to me.
But it isn’t true.
Unhappiness cannot exist without a story of unhappiness.
This brilliant insight is so clearly described by Eckhart Tolle in his powerful book called A New Earth. In it, Tolle details a mentally constructed story called “The Unhappy Me”. It is only when we identify with the feelings and emotions that a story of unhappiness is created and maintained. The inputs into our life (what other people say or do, the economy, politics, environment, bodily deterioration, etc.) are simply that, inputs.
On their own, those inputs are neither good nor bad. It is once we identify with them that we give them meaning, relevance, and above all, judgement.
What does it mean to identify with the inputs? To not see them as they are but, instead, to make up a personal story around them.
This is awful. Why is this happening to me? It’s so unfair.
If only this would happen, then things would be so much better.
Who is uttering these dejected phrases? The ego – the part of our mind that creates the story of unhappiness and then does everything in its power to sustain (if not amplify) it.
When we can look at those inputs as they are – not as we interpret them – then we are creating a space by which we can experience the present moment. We are no longer mixed up (identified) with the story.
Perhaps it will be helpful to remember that no one can be angry at a fact. It is always an interpretation that gives rise to negative emotions, regardless of their seeming justification by what appears as facts. (M-17.4)
As Shakespeare’s Hamlet utters in the second scene of Act 2, “There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.” We give everything all the meaning it has for us. And the only way to be unhappy is to create a story of unhappiness – to give things a meaning of “this is not good, and consequently I am not happy.”
When we can recognize that the one who says, “I am not happy” is not the true “I” but rather the ego-identified “false I”, then we can open that space of presence and see that it’s just a made-up story. From here, it’s a tiny step to the end of unhappiness.
The secret of salvation is but this: that you are doing this unto yourself. (T-27.VIII.10)
We give everything all the meaning that it has for us, and we create the story of unhappiness. Then we go to great lengths to uphold the story.
Instead, we can let go of the ego mind, let go of judgment, and let go of our story of unhappiness. Join us in Monday’s class where we’ll explore how. I look forward to seeing you then.